What I did this vacation (answer: Nothing really)
Insti gives abnormally long vacations compared to rest of the colleges in the country. This means that by the time I come home for break, my friend who goes to college in the city, is on break too. By the time she goes back to college, I still have another month left. Now insti being an engineering institute first and foremost (people usually forget about the 300 odd (in the literal sense as well) people from humanities), they give these 3 month long breaks to allow students to do long internships, summer abroad and what-not. For a course that doesn’t even require me to do internships compulsorily, I could, if I wanted to, spend 3 months doing absolutely nothing. Which is what I usually end up doing.
Having no clear ideas on what I want to be doing professionally, it becomes quite difficult for me to find internships. Also, the fact that I’m going to be majoring in English Studies doesn’t really help my cause. Most kids majoring in Development Studies seems to be really interested in Policy and Research and Academia. Me being the lazy person I am, haven’t exactly tried too hard figuring out what I want either. Well, I wanted to try Publishing so I did what every stupid person does, sent out a bunch of emails to every top Publishing House in the country asking them for some internship opportunities. Obviously, most of them didn’t bother replying, a couple of them were nice enough to turn me down. So while this happened sometime in February, I sent the next bunch of emails to literary journals and magazines hoping someone would take me up. Very few people replied. Okay, to be honest, one person replied - Indira from OutOfPrint magazine which was an online magazine for short stories.
Now I don’t write short stories, I failed epically when I had to for my Creative Writing class last sem. I prefer poetry, it’s a much easier form to handle for me. But I realised that narrowing myself down to just poetry in English Studies was potentially going to be excellent for my future prospects. Diversifying was necessary and I thought this opportunity (the only one by the way) would be a good start. Indira asked me to edit short stories sent in by people. Now editing is quite a task, and it proved to be even more difficult to a novice like me who felt that I had no business saying something about someones art when I couldn’t write half as much or well as them. But it was something to do during the sem and otherwise.
The first 3 weeks I was home, I spent reading poetry. I hoard books now, a sort of revenge on my parents who never bought me books as a kid. I spend a lot of cash on books now and it makes me terribly happy. I have a nice, if not very comprehensive or varied, collection of books of poetry that I have collected over some time now. The visit to Blossoms Bangalore as well the one at Kochi got me a good haul as well. Now the thing about reading at home is that it’s a very alienating activity. If I sit in my room and read, my family thinks I’m being asocial because I don’t sit around the television with them. If I sit in front of the television and read, there’s only so much that goes into my head. Hence, it is quite difficult to read at home. But I did a little bit anyway. And I watched documentaries. Now these are fun to watch. Documentaries make me think that I’d have studied a lot more in school had they showed me documentaries.
Then the 20 day trip to Hyderabad. I’ve written 4 pieces about it already, there’s nothing more to be said about it I guess. But that was a wake-up call as good as ice water being thrown at you. Insti is a bubble, HS department even more. You see just the same people do some things and forget that there is a bigger world out there, smarter, passionate and better than you. The idea is not to participate in the rat race but to not be ignorant. To know things is important and I realised I didn’t, so now I had to start.
I also took to shopping. Now this was never an activity I really enjoyed but I finally got to spend time with Sneha Clifton (finally!) this summer and since she was going off to college (finally!), we decided to do a little bit of it. I bought clothes for myself, yes, it was high time. I even bought lipstick. It was a fascinating experience. It came along with the realisation that it is fine to not be the same person you were before.
The thought of spending a semester abroad sounded wonderful but I realised that two years of slacking meant by CGPA had taken a major hit. I needed to catch up, not just on grades but on the things I missed out academically. Retrospection is not a bad thing as long as you don’t wallow in regret. A surge of optimism had hit me from nowhere and I felt like working hard was not as bad as I made it out to be, or rather, being lazy wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. It just meant hours of mindless sit-com watching that just left me unfulfilled and upset. Not that reading the news makes me feel any better, the world is too fucked up for that, but I felt like I was doing something useful and that is a welcome change.
Conversations with Parthiv also brought about a renewed interest in films. Free access to Netflix and a huge television at home meant that I did spend an awful lot of time in front of it. I tried watching all the great shows - Narcos, Daredevil, Sacred Games and so on. I guess mine is not the popular opinion but I got like really bored of guys being masculine and just shooting people, fighting and then having sex. I figured out what I didn’t like and what kind of shows and movies I wouldn’t want to make. I like happy things. I don’t think that’s too horrible an opinion to have. I like Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I like that the show is happy, and is almost drama-less and shows such a happy and nice heterosexual couple. What’s wrong with watching happy things? I like the movie Bangalore Days, my opinion is obviously biased as an upper caste, middle class, urban person. But I do. I saw a bunch of interviews given by Anjali Menon and I dusted off the old book on Screenplay writing I had bought a long time back.
It’s not as though I am suddenly going to be a filmmaker, a writer or anything at all. But I had pushed off these things the past two years, so sure that nothing would come of it not realising that doing anything, committing to anything at all means something. Trying means something. Not giving up means something. Doing something new means something. Dusting off old dreams and ambitions with a renewed interest means something. I don’t know what it means, but it means something and I think that is enough for me.
I remember an old friend of mine telling me at the end of my first year that the things I wrote didn’t have the hopefulness I used to have back in school. I hope it’s back.